When Ilya Kovalchuk announced his retirement from the NHL at age 30 to get out of his contract with the Devils and presumably go play in the KHL (expect official word for that on Monday), some believed we had seen the last of Kovalchuk in the NHL.

Not so fast. If Kovalchuk wants to return to the NHL -- and already that's being suggested by none other than his sister -- it could happen. It becomes even easier by the time 2018 rolls around.

As it stands, if Kovalchuk decided he wanted to return to the NHL, he would have to get unanimous approval from all 30 clubs. In a year's time, if Kovalchuk wanted to return, he'd have to get approval from the Devils. It's hard to imagine him getting Lou Lamoriello's blessing after bailing.